Operation: Freedom Furlough Goes Above and Beyond

August 11, 2006 - Posted at 6:36 p.m. CDT

REGION 8 -- The challenge was issued and Region 8 responds in an overwhelming way to Operation: Freedom Furlough.

Because of the generosity of Region 8, all of the members of the 875th Engineer Battalion will be able to return home when they receive their furlough before being deployed to Iraq.

Friday morning when K8 News kicked things off, we hoped to raise $65,000... enough to charter nine buses to bring the 875th soldiers back to Region 8, for just a little more time with their family and friends before they begin their mission in Iraq.

Not only did we hit our goal, we smashed it on our way to a figure that no one could have predicted.  During the 12-hour telethon, viewers donated $151,919.82!

KAIT started out early Friday morning...raising nearly $6,000 dollars in only 45 minutes.  Partnered with Ritter Communications, First National Bank and Triple-FM...It was a joint effort to bring the members of the 875 th Engineer Battalion home during their furlough.

"Somebody called me and said 'What if you don't get enough?'  I said we will get enough!" said Trey Stafford of Triple-FM, "We're talking Region 8 here!"

Friends and family members helped take donations and when Region 8 businesses jumped in, the total went higher.

"On behalf of KAIT and the employees of KAIT and their families and Raycommedia, our parent organization, we would like to donate $1500 dollars to Operation Freedom Furlough," said KAIT General Manager Ted Fortenberry.

"Our campaign has a check for $1,000 and we are delighted to participate in this wonderful effort that the broadcast media and the media have put together in Northeast Arkansas," said Congressman Marion Berry.

Teleflora presented a check to Operation: Freedom Furlough for $9,200, the largest single donation. There were individual stories behind every donation...but in the end, only a good neighbor effort.

"We wanted to make sure that during the four or five days that they had for furlough that they could come home, spend the most optimum time with their family at home and we have $1,200 dollars," said a Presto Light Wire employee who raised the money in a hotdog fundraiser.

Funds raised from Operation: Freedom Furlough will go into the 875th Engineer Battalion Family Support Group Fund.